Efficiency improvements in a horizontal humidification-dehumidification unit

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The horizontal desalination units belonging to the humidification-dehumidification family purify water using air as a carrier gas. The temperature required for separation can vary from ambient to 99 °C so

The horizontal desalination units belonging to the humidification-dehumidification family purify water using air as a carrier gas. The temperature required for separation can vary from ambient to 99 °C so waste heat, fuel combustion, or solar collectors can drive the process. A unit in which air flows horizontally affords several advantages over similar vertical “Dewvaporation” towers (as an example), including ease of construction and potentially increased efficiency. The objective was to build and test horizontal units and identify areas of potential efficiency improvements. The desalination units consisted of: 1.) A series of aligned, corrugated, polypropylene sheets covered on the outside with absorbent, water-wettable cloth. 2.) A basin that caught saline water flowing downward from the absorbent cloth. 3.) Ten pumps to cycle the basin water back onto the cloth. 4.) An air blower on the front of the unit that drove air horizontally across the cloth, increasing the humidity of the air. 5.) A steam generator on the back of the unit producing steam that mixed with the incoming air to increase the temperature and humidity. 6) A steam box that caused the air to mix with the steam and return to flow inside the corrugations in the plastic sheets, creating a countercurrent heat exchanger as the exiting air transferred its heat to the incoming air and causing purified water to condense from the cooling, oversaturated air. The tested unit produced distillate at a rate of 0.87 gallons per hour with 13 parts per million total dissolved solids and an energy reuse factor of 2.5. Recommendations include the implementation of a continuous longitudinal pump design, a modification of the basin to accommodate top and bottom unit center dividers, increase in insulation coverage, and optimization of air flow rate.